Outdated CRMs for Leasing Teams 

In recent years, tech-based products and services have flooded the commercial real estate market as the industry finally acknowledged the world’s inevitable shift to a digital future. However, as this transformation has unfolded, one critical real estate process has gone largely untouched: lead management and effective processes to improve the renter/leasing journey. Even in 2022, the CRM products that enable and guide the apartment leasing process across much of the industry remain outdated, resulting in a frustrating experience for operators and renters alike. 

While both renters and leasing teams want to boost efficiency through increased tech adoption, legacy CRMs lack the connectivity and the seamlessness needed to maximize the benefits of each tool. Failing to streamline and integrate the different digital platforms that are exponentially supporting the modern leasing process has resulted in missed opportunities to improve operations and renter satisfaction. If this siloed implementation of leasing tech continues, property management companies and renters will inevitably miss out on the full ROI and will not reap the full reward of new tech tools. 

The Problems with the Status Quo 

The CRMs that many property managers use to drive the leasing process are property-centric property management softwares — meaning the data in these systems is collected and analyzed from the perspective of each individual building. A quick history lesson: the largest legacy players all began as accounting software. Over time they acquired, attempted to build, or tacked on customer-facing pieces to complete the journey. For owners and operators, this approach has a significant problem: By definition, a property-centric CRM is incapable of linking together multiple residential communities. For operators with several properties in a single market, this translates into significant inefficiencies. The same prospective renter likely has duplicative profiles that are assigned to two or more properties and leasing agents. This prospective renter would also have to perform certain tasks, such as background checks, multiple times. For property management companies, the inability to “cross-sell” properties and present units in their portfolio that the renter was unaware of is a massive loss. While this has always been an issue, it became particularly relevant over the past two years, when the traditional leasing process moved  almost entirely online.

To support the continued shift away from this legacy model and toward an improved approach to rental management, we were proud to recently make one of our largest investments to date, leading Funnel’s $36.5 million Series B round.  

Taking a ‘Renter-Centric’ Approach to Leasing 

Funnel’s software helps operators manage their entire portfolio’s marketing, communications, and leasing in a single platform, creating efficiencies and improving processes through a unique “renter-centric” model. They have created an entirely new category: Renter Management Software. This innovative reimagining of the traditional approach to real estate CRMs supports a more convenient rental process for both prospects and operators. With renters at the center of the leasing process, multi-building portfolios can leverage Funnel’s technology to centralize and improve operations across dozens of properties, reducing costs by helping operators staff intelligently, and allowing them to track each prospective tenant’s interactions across the portfolio for a more holistic outlook. 

Funnel is also rolling out a powerful fintech integration to empower renters to verify their financial status through their banks — removing the necessity for analog processes like collecting W-2s and pay stubs. 

Prior to this Series B investment, RET led two funding rounds for Funnel in 2019 and 2020. Since our initial investment, with the help of several of our strategic partners, we have assisted in guiding the platform’s evolution and witnessed its dramatic growth into the CRM of choice for 5 of the NMHC Top 20 owners (including many of RET’s strategic investors). This evolution has been driven by product development conducted in collaboration with several of our strategic investors, ensuring that the final tool being used today has been validated and sculpted to directly address the needs of the market. 

Connecting The Resident Journey

As Funnel offers the market’s first-ever renter-centric CRM, it also serves as the ideal hub for a robust tech stack aimed at engaging with residents throughout every stage of the leasing process. Funnel also intends to build out new resident tools, including onboarding, resident portal, and renewals. 

The platform fits seamlessly into RET’s ecosystem, and Funnel is quickly establishing itself as the premier foundation for rent tech integration and resident experience. Touring a property? Funnel can support property navigation and unit accessibility via Engrain and SmartRent.  , Need to source a dog walker for your new neighborhood? Funnel can connect you with local service providers via Amenify. Ready to move out and lease a new apartment? Funnel again can play a critical role by connecting renters to sister properties within the portfolio, thus building brand loyalty by providing an excellent renter experience. 

Funnel is unique in this ability to provide direct benefits to allconsumers in the rental lifecycle, from prospect through long-term tenant.

 The Future for Leasing CRMs is Here

We firmly believe that Funnel represents the future of leasing technology for enterprise and mid-market operators, and it is that confidence that pushed us to lead another round of funding for Funnel and significantly increase our stake in the company. By doubling down on our investment in Funnel’s unique platform, we are strengthening our commitment to the renter-centric future of leasing, which will benefit leasing teams as well as renters for decades to come.